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Have Your Say: Toews Lake causes flood of anger

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Firefighters are waiting

What a great idea, naming a lake somewhere north of Flin Flon for Jonathan Toews after bringing the Stanley Cup to Winnipeg!

"It's to honour his contribution to hockey, at the Olympics and the Stanley Cup," Premier Greg Selinger explained.

Several years ago, on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2007, Harold Lessard and Tom Nichols, two captains from the Winnipeg Fire Department lost their lives in a flash-over while fighting a fire in St. Boniface.

Several of us retired firefighters looked into having a street in St. Boniface named after them to honour their sacrifice, but gave up after learning how many hurdles had to be jumped and how much red tape needed to be cut.

Mr. Premier, how about naming a lake after these two heroes?

How does Lake Lessard-Nichol or Nichol-Lessard Lake sound?

While winning the Stanley Cup for an American city is quite a feat, and winning a gold medal for Canada in a Canadian city not named Winnipeg and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP in the playoffs to boot only increases the honour, how about the fact that the above-mentioned heroes gave up their lives in doing their jobs? Should this not also be worth recognition? You think?

L.D. (Larry) Klassen

winnipeg

A mother's anger

While it is commendable that Jonathan Toews has accomplished so much in his short life thus far, I feel it is a travesty he has had a lake named after him, a community centre named after him and has been presented the key to the City of Winnipeg in just six short weeks. Our son, Cpl. Michael James Alexander Seggie, was killed in action on 3 Sept. 2, 2008. He was 21 years old.

Thus far, there has been no lake named after him, despite a program that is in place to name lakes after military personnel killed in action. When the parent of a friend of Mike's inquired about naming a facility after him, he was told it takes money to do that. Who paid for the Jonathan Toews community naming?

We find the practice of politicians fawning over an NHL star demeaning and insulting to not only the memory of our son, but also over 100,000 Canadians who gave their lives in two World Wars, Korea, peacekeeping missions and Afghanistan. These people paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.

Winning a Stanley Cup may be a major accomplishment, but it pales when compared to the hardships our troops suffer in Afghanistan. Toews will never have to face the Taliban, nor will he ever have to watch every step he takes for fear of being hit with an IED. He will never have to be on the wrong end of a Taliban ambush. The hardest thing Toews has had to face thus far is Chris Pronger and the entire corps of defencemen in the NHL.

Yes, he is deserving of his recognition, but in due time. We are still waiting for a lake to be named after our son and it will soon be two years since his death. As well as two other Manitobans -- James Arnal, who died two years ago, and Lane Watkins, who lost his life three years ago. Why is it taking so long for their recognition, when Toews had his day in six short weeks?

Shirley Seggie

Winnipeg

Toews made no sacrifice

As a hockey fan, player, and a proud Manitoban, I was certainly impressed with Jonathan Toews' gold medal and Stanley Cup victories this year. However, after the recent events and announcements on behalf of our city and province last weekend, that excitement has since burned off.

In 1947, the province of Manitoba began naming geographical features after members of our Armed Forces who lost their lives while on active service. Since then, over 4,200 lakes, islands, bays and other features have been named after Manitoba's war dead who valiantly gave their lives in sacrifice for our country. I hardly feel that Toews has given a sacrifice of such depth and volume that would deserve having a 63-year-old tradition broken in his honour.

Jenn Rands

Winnipeg

Critics overreacting

Re: Betrayal of war heroes (July 10), by letter writer Barry Hadfield. It really is a bit off the wall to suggest that naming a lake after Jonathan Toews is a demeaning insult to Manitoba's war dead.

Hadfield is obviously not aware of the fact that of Manitoba's 100,000 lakes, only 4,200 or so honour war casualties. In fact, not only lakes but other geographic locations bear their names and their stories are capsulized in the book A Place of Honour.

Barry Hadfield may be interested in a few examples of Manitoba lakes not named in memory of war casualties:

-- Young Lake, southwest of Flin Flon, named in 1957 after W.J. Young, a mining promoter from The Pas.

-- Woods Lake, northwest of Bissett, named after a trapper who built a birchbark shelter in the area.

-- Whitlock Lake, northeast of Lac Du Bonnet, named in 1921 after a university professor.

-- Vini Lake, west of Swan Lake, named after former conservation officer J.B. Norman (nickname Vini).

-- Talbot Lak, southeast of Brereton Lake, named after an engineer who worked in the area.

-- Dow Lake (Moen Lake), southeast of Kississing Lake, named after soldier Roy H. Dow of Moosehorn/Bethany and Art Moen, a local firefighter.

Jonathan Toews is not the first athlete to be honoured with the naming of a memorial lake. Many well-known names are found among the 4,200 plus Manitoba war dead: Jeff Nicklin of the Blue Bombers; Harold German, an excellent all-around athlete from Pilot Mound; Herman Jonasson, a pitcher from Baldur; George Dean, shortstop with the Pine Falls Rovers; Mike Moroz, who played for the Transcona Trojans and his brother Michael, with the Winnipeg Monarchs hockey team.

Floyd Williston

Winnipeg

Athletes are not heroes

Heroes are not athletes, actors or entertainers. As the former chairman of the Manitoba Sports Federation and former commanding officer of the Fort Garry Horse, I find it distressing and disappointing that our media continues to use the term heroes in describing the accomplishments of athletes, actors or entertainers. This is a misuse of the term and diminishes the value and achievement of real heroes.

The true definition of the word hero is one who risks his or her life in an effort to save another life.

The achievements of athletes and actors are worthy and should be recognized. But do not confuse celebrity or stardom with heroic achievement. Great effort to achieve a high standard of professionalism are the goals of athletes and actors.

The men and women in our Armed Forces, our coast guard, our police and firefighters are in occupations that put them at risk on a regular basis, but they are not heroes until they place themselves in harm's way.

The 150 members of the Canadian Armed Forces who died in Afghanistan are heroes. They risked their lives in the cause of freedom and paid the ultimate price. They are true heroes. There is no other word other than hero in our language that describes their efforts. Please do not diminish their sacrifice.

I have worked with of many of our athletes and soldiers, they all are worthy of their efforts. Do not confuse the singular dedication of their contribution to society and to our nation.

Gary Solar

Winnipeg

Others more deserving

I am a sports fan and watch all the NHL hockey that I can. But on the subject of Jonathan Toews, it is astonishing that the province, let alone the City of Winnipeg, would honour a young man the way that they have Toews. There are people who have achieved more and have been given nothing for their efforts.

When the premier said "it was the appropriate thing to do," his standards must be low if all a person has to do is win a sports trophy to have a lake and a community centre named after him and also be given the key to the City of Winnipeg.

This is not to take away from his achievements and, yes, he deserves to be congratulated. But is this not going overboard? If you wear the tuxedo to the rehearsal, then what do you wear at the wedding? I am surprised that it has not been mentioned that he has been nominated for the Order of Manitoba or the Order of Canada. He has been given everything just short of this by the province.

For those who are deserving of recognition for their service and outstanding contribution to your community, province and country, you will all have to take a back seat. It seems that your efforts were not as good as winning a sports trophy. I realize the people who made the decision to give all of this to Toews had their reasoning, but their standards must be low as to what a person needs to achieve to get all these accolades. People who have died for this country, so that we all can enjoy the freedom we have, have not be given any of this.

Bill thompson

Wawanesa

Hockey adds no value

Naming a northern lake after a hockey player sure satisfies the ego of the sport jocks in this city. No, he did not find a cure for cancer or save anyone's life or spend his life helping the poor and downtrodden.

How sad that we as a society honour a hockey player and tend to forget police officers, firefighters and paramedics who put their lives on the line every day, the soldiers who have given their lives for the freedom we enjoy, the doctors and nurses who perform miracles in the hospitals on a daily basis, the teachers, writers and daycare workers who have such a great impact on our children. I for one would like to pick a doctor, a police officer or a firefighter and put them on the podium, name streets and lakes after them. Wake up, people; hockey does not add any great value to our lives. Banging a rubber puck around on the ice for millions of dollars in pay does not qualify one as a hero.

LOU SPAKOWSKI

Winnipeg

Rescind the honour

While Jonathan Toews is an outstanding hockey player, he is just that -- a hockey player! Nothing more, nothing less. I am not taking away anything from his skills or abilities, but can you please tell me what he has done to make this country a safe place for Canadians to live?

My uncle died in the Second World War and a lake up north was named after him for his ultimate sacrifice. He and many other wonderful men gave their lives so that Canada can be what it is today.

I am absolutely disgusted that Jonathan Toews was even mentioned in the same breath as these brave men (and now women). Sorry Jonathan, I have nothing against you -- I just feel that this is a dishonour to the men who fought for the freedom of Canada.

I truly wish this would be reconsidered.

Sonia Feakes

Winnipeg

Criteria ignored

I was dismayed yesterday to hear of the naming of a lake in northern Manitoba after Jonathan Toews. This is not meant with any disrespect to the talented young hockey player. However, I think that if you were to look at the rules for geographic naming in the country in general, and Manitoba specifically, you will find that this act goes against all accepted standards.

These rules have evolved over time with the specific purpose of assuring that place names are applied with appropriate forethought and care. Naming a lake after Toews lessens the honour for those who have met the criteria through lifelong contributions to the cultural legacy of the province or those who have lost their lives in its defence. As a Canadian I am concerned that the established rules are being blatantly ignored. Were aboriginal elders whose people have traditional ties to the area consulted to see if the lake already had a name?

I urge you to give this decision sober second thought.

Merrily K. Aubrey

Centreville, N.S.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 14, 2010 A13

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